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Real change is a changed mind

I've shared my thoughts on "Getting beyond the low-hanging fruit" lately in several forms (see Here and Here), and I use my model for that with clients all the time. It's about taking the vision, leadership, and often courage to make substantial changes to the systems we are a part of: products, processes, organizations, and communities. 

On a personal side, I've also faced the question. In trying to get more physically fit, I have had to think about myself in a new way. I had to decide what guy I want to be, and keep my focus on that guy. Most of my years of trying to get fit, I've gone to gyms, done modest exercising, but generally not met my goals, not finished what I started, and not moved out of my comfort zone.

I changed that (inspired by my very-fit and motivated wife, Jane). I decided that the guy I wanted to be isn't someone who stops short of his fitness goals. He completes what he starts, then sets higher goals, and works towards those. My changed mind is paying off–I am much fitter because of it. 

I have long worked with clients to do the same thing: to envision being different from today and in a new place.The principle is, "First, you should envision." And you need to set a vision of significant change.

In our first exploration of the Future of Packaging, in 1997-98, we urged our packaging department clients to think of themselves as having a seat the the table–having much more influence in the product development/marketing/retailing value chain. That new way of thinking about their status gave the best among the packaging groups a new standing, not just in their own eyes, but in their company's. It made a difference.

At the core of this for me, and at the core of fostering real change in organizations, is the changed mind. It's critical to know what you want to become, and where you want to get to. This means thinking differently about yourself. Otherwise, you, or the organization, really won't get very far–Your future will be the same old thing, with some easy-reach, low-hanging fruit changes made. This is like "going green" by only switching to compact flourescent light bulbs. That's not real change. Real change means a changed mind.

Image: dierk schaefer, via Flickr, cc attribution license

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